Thanksgiving is still around the corner, but at Tysons Corner Center, it’s starting to feel a little like Christmas.
The mall kicked off its 2021 winter holiday season on Friday (Nov. 19) with a tree lighting ceremony that included live music and theater performances, complimentary s’mores and hot chocolate stations, and a pop-up market featuring some of its retailers.
Despite the chilly weather, the mood on the Plaza — where the tree lighting festivities took place — was relaxed, even cheery, as loud speakers blasted winter staples from Leroy Anderson’s “Sleigh Ride” to Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You.”
“Look at all the faces out here!” a man dressed as Santa Claus said when taking the stage just after 6:20 p.m. for the lighting of the approximately 50-foot-tall pine tree.
For Marvin Ramos and Catherine Romero, this was an opportunity to resume a cherished tradition after Tysons Corner canceled the tree lighting last year due to the pandemic, though the mall still hosted a few other holiday events.
Ramos has attended every year for as long as he can remember, thanks to his parents’ avid listening to the radio station 97.1 WASH FM, which partners with Tysons Corner Center on the event. Host Toby Knapp served as emcee for this year’s ceremony.
Now 25 years old, Ramos has carried on the tradition with Romero, braving Capital Beltway traffic annually to get to the mall from their home in Rockville, Maryland.
“Just seeing everybody here together, getting ready for the holiday season, seeing the joy in everybody, the music, all that stuff,” Ramos said when asked what makes the Tysons tree lighting special.
Though she quips that she comes “to support him,” Romero says she has enjoyed turning the tree lighting into a routine since Ramos introduced her to it. She especially likes the pop-up market, which included booths for Northern Virginia Orthodontics, Sheepskin Gifts and Alpaca Too, and other local businesses.
“It’s a good way to know what’s in the area and get to meet new shop and business owners…support small businesses, meanwhile celebrating the holidays,” she said. “It’s great. It’s fun.”
On the other end of the spectrum is Luda, a Fairfax resident who declined to give her last name.
Accompanied by her partner and their two children, she was attending the Tysons Corner tree lighting for the first time. She says they have been going out more as a family than they were at this time last year.
“I like to see [the] decoration and light,” Luda said. “I’m very much enjoying bringing my baby to events, free events like this, and to get together with people, to share the holidays, I love it.”
In addition to the tree lighting, Tysons Corner Center has been hosting photos with Santa since Nov. 12, and he will be around through Dec. 24. Reservations are recommended but not required.
The mall’s upcoming holiday events are similarly Santa-centric:
- Breakfast with Santa — Dec. 4, 9-10 a.m., at the food court — Reservations are not required for this first-come, first-served complimentary catered breakfast with kid entertainment and other family-friendly activities.
- Pet Nights with Santa — Dec. 6, 13, and 20, 6-8 p.m., at the Fashion Court on Level 1 — Santa poses with visitors’ pets in this returning event. Reservations encouraged.
- Storytime with Santa — Dec. 11, 9-10 a.m., at the Fashion Court — Santa reads classic holiday stories for children. Reservations are not required.
- Sensory Santa — Dec. 12, 9:30-10:30 a.m., at the Fashion Court — In a partnership with Cherry Hill photography and the nonprofit Autism Speaks, Tysons Corner Center will open exclusively to families who have children with special needs. Reservations are not required.
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